These are da (bath) bomb …

bath bomb 2

If, at any time in the future, someone questions my hippy/naturopath credentials I am going to refer them to this blog post.

There are a few people in my family who are partial to a long hot soak in the bath and we usually like to throw in a bath bomb. I was having a look at the list of ingredients on some at the shops this morning and I realised that I really didn’t want to spend an hour of my life soaking in that stuff….Anything called PEG-150, titanium dioxide, benzyl benzoate and weird colours and fragrances that are identified only by scary secret numbers are not my friend.

So I came home, did some research and made my own !

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With a few simple ingredients from the pantry I made a dozen of these sweet smelling beauties. Just a few dollars worth of ingredients, a quick trip to the garden and five minutes of my time and I now have twelve baths to look forward to and the knowledge that there is no cocktail of nasties involved.

How to …

Mix together 1/2 cup citric acid, 1 cup bicarbonate of soda and 1 cup epsom salts

Stir well and make sure there are no lumps.

Stir in 2 – 3 tablespoons of melted coconut oil and mix well again. Stir in 10-20 drops of essential oil if desired. The mix should be crumbly but hold together when you squash some in your hands. You can add a little extra water or coconut oil to get the right consistency.

You can mix in any colours, herbs, flowers etc that you’d like to use now or you can just sprinkle them into the moulds before filling with bath bomb mixture.

Lightly oil a muffin tray, or any mould you want to use, with a little coconut oil and spoon the mix in pressing down firmly.

Leave to dry for at least 8 hours then gently unmould and store in airtight container. Best used within a few weeks.

Now go find a book, light a candle and have a good soak on me.

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Get $25 off your appointment ! This offer is available to the first 15 people who book an appointment in March. Offer ends Sunday 8pm.

Respond by email to info@naturocath.com.au to claim this offer.
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Really good choc chip biscuits…and why it’s great they are wheat free

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If you can’t tolerate wheat, are vegan or lactose intolerant I have the biscuit for you.

This little gems tick all the boxes – chewy with crispy edges, sweet and nutty.  Just because you have some dietary issues doesn’t mean you have to miss out.

These are not sin free – there’s sugar and chocolate and other wicked things but we all crave a treat now and then and these are so good.

Wheat has become a contentious topic. Lots of people find they cannot tolerate wheat without some nasty side effects like reduced nutrient absorption, bloating, pain, intestinal aggravation and headaches. For those living with Coeliac Disease it’s a total game changer.

About 50 years ago some serious modifications occurred to mass produced wheat making it a shorter, tougher grain. It certainly helped solve some issues of demand but left us with a grain that is much harder to digest and one that contains introduced proteins that were never originally there. Few of us have the enzymes necessary to break it down and this can lead to a situation where bloating and intestinal upset, inflammation, overactive immune responses and blood sugar spikes wreak havoc in our bodies.

If you are dealing with any autoimmune disease such as Hashimoto’s or Graves Disease, rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis, lupus or inflammatory bowel disorders you should stay well away from wheat. It is not your friend and is, in fact, feeding the immune storm driving your condition.

On a happier note – CHOC CHIP BISCUITS !!!!   There are lots of options in this recipe so tweak it to suit your own situation, choices or tastes.

Makes about 40 biscuits

2 eggs or 2 tablespoons of flax seed meal mixed with 100mls of water.
125gr butter, vegan butter or coconut oil
1/2 cup nut butter – I use almond
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup caster or coconut sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 teaspoon each of bicarb soda and baking powder
2 cups of raw or roasted almonds
2 cups gluten free oats
2 teaspoons good quality salt
1 cup chocolate chips ( you could swap this for raisins, cranberries, nuts, crystallised ginger etc)

Preheat oven to 180 degrees. Mix together flax seed meal and water if using.

In a food processor blend the almonds till they become a fine meal. Pour into large mixing bowl. Process oats in same way to make oat flour. Mix in baking powder, bicarb and salt.

In a separate bowl use electric mixer to blend together butter and and nut butter. Add in sugars and vanilla and beat for a couple of minutes. Add in flax seed mixture or eggs and mix till combined.

Mix together wet and dry ingredients then stir in chocolate chips. The mixture should be a bit sticky – if it’s too dry add a splash of milk.

Roll heaped teaspoons into balls and place on baking trays leaving plenty of room for spreading. Bake for 14-18 minutes at 180 degrees. Allow to cool on trays before moving to cooling racks.

If you don’t need 40 biscuits all at once you can roll mixture into balls and freeze. When ready to cook let them thaw for an hour or so then cook at usual.

 

Taking my own advice ….thyroid and adrenal health

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I’m good at giving advice. I love to help people find their way back to feeling good. Few things make me happier than good feedback from clients and the feeling that I have been able to help them achieve something they thought they couldn’t. Now I’m having to try to be this for myself ….

I can tell you all about the things that will nurture your body and spirit back to health – changed diets, high density nutrition, supplements, herbal medicine, relaxation and stress management techniques, finding something fun that you love doing. I’ve got all the theories !

Recently, after a prolonged period of stress and caring for everyone but myself (most Mum’s will relate to that one !) I found myself in the midst of a thyroid/adrenal storm. I have had issues with hypothyroidism for a number of years but have managed them well and, until recently, felt pretty good about how things were progressing.

A few weeks ago I found myself completely exhausted and depleted, unable to manage my normal life and feeling bewildered by it all. Feeling flat, fatigued and gaining weight for no apparent reason rang all my thyroid bells. After some soul searching, pathology testing and getting fed up with feeling crappy I made some changes which are starting to kick in and help me back to my old self.

Like a bolt from the blue the world had conspired to have me take heed of some of my own advice. I’ve had to do those things that I have encouraged so many others to do – rest, eat really well, take care of myself, be a bit kinder and less harsh in my self judgement, let other people help me. It’s been TOUGH ! Way TOUGH ! It’s been frustrating, humbling and difficult – and shown me just how loved I am.

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I have struggled with feeling that I will be judged as being not quite up to scratch. A naturopath who is feeling pretty poorly and has had a number of weeks away from work is not a great advertisement. Or is it ??? Somehow, I am starting to realise that there is value in this experience and in taking some of my own advice. I have had to do what I routinely ask of my clients. I am learning to say no to things that don’t support me or that will take more of a toll than I can afford at the moment. I am realising that in order to look after your health and wellbeing, especially when things reach a kind of crisis point, it takes a certain amount of courage, humility and willingness to be vulnerable. These are all admirable qualities although sometimes hard to embrace when it can feel like weakness.

So here I am. On the road to recovery but not quite there yet. Still trying to balance my need to take care of myself with my need to ‘get stuff done’.

So what has changed ? I’m resting a lot. My diet is gluten free and nutrient dense – smoothies are full of fresh fruit and veg, raw cacao and maca powder. I’ve slightly increased my healthy carbs (so necessary for hypothyroidism), I’ve upped my healthy fats like avocado and coconut oil and I’m trying to listen to my body for what I need to eat. So many of us hypothyroid folk live on such spartan diets in an attempt to keep the weight off – its easy to find yourself nutrient deficient if you’re not careful. I’ve also implemented a herbal medicine and nutrient supplement regime to address the drivers and manage the symptoms. I’ve also finally started asking for help when I need it. If you ask my gorgeous husband he will tell you that this is MASSIVE for me ! Things are starting to look up….

Have a look at this list of symptoms and see if they ring bells for you… if you need some help recovering I am your gal. I’ve walked the walk and talked the talk. Been there, done that.

Signs of adrenal / thyroid issues include :

Morning fatigue, trouble waking up, waking feeling unrested
Low mood/ low motivation/ racing thoughts / anxiety
Muscle weakness
Poor focus and concentration
Bone loss
Lowered libido
Inflammation
Increased allergies or new allergy symptoms  – food or environmental
Difficulty sleeping – often feeling exhausted during the day or afternoon but then unable to get to sleep. Often have a more wakeful period late at night.
Irritability, intolerance and mood changes
General tiredness
Cravings for sugar
Hair loss
Weight gain
Muscle tension and pain
Feeling overwhelmed/ unable to cope
Low blood pressure – especially dizziness or lightheadedness when standing up.
Intolerance/jumpiness with loud noises or bright lights
Shortness of breath with minimal exertion
Iron deficiency

The lowdown on cortisol …

stressless

Most of us know that there is a link between stress and cortisol levels but there’s a lot more to this little steroid hormone than you may think.

Cortisol is produced in two ways – in response to stress and as part of our natural sleep and wake cycle. It peaks at about 8am to help us rise and shine and get active for the day.The levels drop throughout the day with the low point happening at around 4am before it ramps up again for our daily wake up call.

Cortisol plays a big role in our stress response. Cortisol helps us deal with stress by shutting down some  functions to allow the body to direct all its energy to dealing with the stress. This cortisol reaction is supposed to be short term and just long enough to deal with the source of stress. Unfortunately our lives can be anything but stress free and when stress is chronic this becomes a problem.

How does cortisol affect us ?

  • It stimulates glucose production and slows insulin meaning you end up with lots of sugar in your blood. Thats great if you actually have something you’re trying to run away from but not so good when you’re just sitting around feeling stressed about how to pay your bills.
  • Cortisol hinders the immune system when levels are high making your body more susceptible to infections and bacteria. Have you noticed how you always get sick when your stressed ?
  • It also slows bone formation and decreases calcium absorption so when its too high there’s no bone growth and no muscle growth.
  • It causes high blood pressure and decreased blood flow to organs
  • Too much or too little cortisol messes up thyroid hormones
  • Leads to increased stomach acid and reflux
  • Makes us less fertile and more likely to miscarry
  • Changes our metabolism and makes us hungry and less able to realise when we are satisfied

Our body has a system that is meant to regulate cortisol levels by shutting down production when things get too high. Unfortunately when we are stressed all the time the system gets mucked up and can’t regulate properly  – kind of like insulin resistance when we flood our bodies daily with sugar. The result is that our cortisol levels become unhealthy and high or  low at the wrong time of day leaving us feeling out of kilter.

Ways to lower cortisol

  • Regular exercise – not marathon running – try yoga, pilates, walking, stretching
  • Meditation, relaxation, breathing exercises
  • Get enough sleep
  • Listen to music you love
  • Drink black tea – about 3 cups per day
  • Get a massage
  • Learn some stress management techniques
  • Avoid all alcohol
  • Eat nutrient dense food – especially those high in magnesium, vitamin C and B vitamins.
  • See a naturopath for help doing all of the above ! There are some great herbal medicines and supplements that can support you back to healthy cortisol levels.

The drop on caffeine ….

coffee-smell

My daughter’s partner is a self confessed coffee snob. He will travel miles for the perfect cup. He takes hours making his own cold drip coffee. He gets other people to snaffle up special beans for him when they are available. He talks about coffee like other people talk about wine – lots of whimsical adjectives like ‘citrussy, smooth, sharp and bright’. He is taking great delight in my daughters budding coffee appreciation and I love watching how happy it makes him when he finds or makes some that makes the grade. So is this an innocent enjoyment or an unhealthy habit ????

Australia’s caffeine consumption is going up and up. Our cafe culture, home coffee machines, caffeinated drinks and dietary supplements all contribute to our caffeine intake.

There is no doubt that a small amount of caffeine can improve performance with mental acuity, focus and energy increased by about 10% with a morning coffee hit. Other benefits include antioxidant effects which reduce risks of cancer, Parkinson’s Disease, Alzheimers Disease and diabetes.

The problem with caffeine consumption is that most people have too much and they combine it with things like cows milk and sugar which blocks our ability to absorb the beneficial aspects of caffeine. Too much coffee also places a strain on liver function, overloading our detoxification system.

A small coffee contains approximately 100mg of caffeine and tea about 35mg. So called ‘energy drinks’ contain between 80 and 220mg of caffeine. Dietary supplements such as pre-workout supplements contain between 150 and 400mg.

The products containing high levels of caffeine are not safe or beneficial, especially for children, and I am often alarmed by how many people I see regularly consuming potentially harmful products. The risks add up when combined with other toxins such as alcohol e.g. Red Bull and Vodka drinks.

Caffeine has a half life of eight hours. This means that eight hours after your 100mg caffeine coffee you will still have 50mg in your system.

Your liver can only metabolise 30-40mg of caffeine at a time so regardless of how much more caffeine you consume you will still only be able to metabolise and use the original amount you ingested. When you have multiple doses of caffeine throughout the day you can’t actually use it so it accumulates in your body. These high accumulated levels can become problematic causing or contributing to anxiety, insomnia, cardiovascular problems, mood disorders, headaches, skin and digestive problems.

Caffeine in pregnancy – pregnant Mum’s need to take particular care. Adult livers are about the size of your fist, babies only the size of a five cent piece. Adult livers detoxify caffeine in 8 hours, babies take 128 days so it makes sense to avoid caffeine while pregnant and breast feeding.

So, have a coffee if you enjoy it but be careful about overloading your liver and undoing any benefit you might gain from it. Try swapping to lower caffeine teas, decaf coffees, herbal teas or caffeine free alternatives.

 

 

Headaches ….

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When I see clients and we do an assessment of their health almost everyone tells me that they experience headaches. Sometime it’s an  occasional thing but for many people it is a regular part of their life. Some people suffer with migraine and anyone who has had a migraine can tell you that it’s no fun at all. There are lots of causes so let’s have a look at what drives headache and some simple things you can do to help yourself.

  1. Dehydration. This is one of the leading causes of headache and the simplest type to fix. As a general rule multiplying your body weight by thirty gives you a rough guide of how much you should be aiming to drink daily. So if you are 60 kilos – 60kg x 30ml = 1800ml or  1.8 litres. You need to adjust this up according to how much exercise you do.
  2. Magnesium – Magnesium is needed for hundreds of body processes including stress management, muscle action and cardiovascular health. Deficiencies or even sub optimal levels can leave you open to headache. Lack of magnesium can cause cramping, muscle tension, blood pressure issues and poor blood oxygenation – all big drivers of headache pain.
  3. Mechanical issues – such as poor posture and  working at computers with head, neck and shoulders always bent downwards can cause headache. Try to have things at eye level and consider remedial massage for management.
  4. Low B12, B6 or iron levels. These deficiencies can be easily assessed with a blood test. Symptoms include fatigue, headache, brain fog, moodiness. Iron and B12 stores are needed to efficiently transport oxygen around the body, especially to muscles and brain. Lack of oxygen leads to headache and migraine. Vitamin B6 is a really important nutrient in the production and use of the brain chemicals serotonin and norepinephrine and this is strongly related to migraine, depression and irritability.It is also necessary for the nervous system to function correctly so can lead to stress headaches when people feel overwhelmed.
  5. Liver function. If your liver isn’t working as well as it needs to toxins such as chemicals, bacteria, heavy metals, unhealthy foods, alcohol and caffeine won’t be efficiently removed from your system and will continue to recirculate through your blood stream. These toxins are particularly problematic for your brain where the capillaries and protection is thinnest leading to inflammation and headache pain. You need good levels of water, B vitamins and magnesium for liver function. The best thing though is to avoid the toxins in the first place.

If you are one of the many people who suffer with headaches I hope this helps you to manage them.

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Where do you get your health information ????

infob

I was listening to the radio the other day when a philosopher starting talking about ‘infobesity’. The theory is that we are gorging ourselves indiscriminately on information that may or may not have value or accuracy – fast food for our brains. He went on to talk about how we often develop online personas that don’t accurately reflect the richness of who we are but rather highlight our few high priority causes. I had a think about my online presence and realised that it’s all about me being a naturopath-lefty-chicken tragic-mother. I’m ok with all these things but surely there’s more to me than that.

The other aspect of this ‘infobesity’ is that we are often fed information that is in alignment with our views and previous searches. We sign up to newsletters for products, services and personalities we can identify with or aspire to. We narrow our own experience by filtering out ideas that are foreign to us or that we don’t agree with. That isn’t a bad thing altogether – I certainly don’t want McDonalds in my inbox but there is also the healthy notion that it’s good to keep your mind open to things you don’t understand or particularly like.

When I looked at the resources I use most frequently for health information I felt reassured that my sources were reputable, substantiated and consistent. It was however, glaringly obvious, that I am drawing from a select pool that is usually only available via subscription or to verified professionals.  A large portion of the readily available information is biased at best and false at worst. Without some background knowledge it’s hard to discriminate between the worthwhile and the valueless.

I am all for people being informed especially when it relates to health matters. I love it when people come to see me armed with knowledge and ideas about their health concerns. What I find challenging is that this information can sometimes seem very useful when in fact it’s not substantiated in any way or makes crazy promises about wonder cures. Anyone can make these kind of claims – to cure cancers, help you chose the sex of your baby, cure your chronic disease in three easy steps, radical weight loss – but really this is just nonsense and creates false hope and unrealistic expectations. I have seen some amazing results in my work but these come about through healthy changes to diet and lifestyle factors and commitment to a treatment plan that is based in evidence and experience.

I believe that it’s crucially important to understand your own health and how your body works for you. The internet is a fantastic starting point but nothing can replace speaking with someone who knows you and your circumstances and who also has the professional qualifications to back up their suggestions for treatment.

Here is the ‘cheesecake’ you’ve been waiting for ….

cheese rasp

Like most of my favourite recipes this one cropped up kind of by accident in a moment of kitchen madness. I felt like cooking but not really eating (go figure) so thought I’d try to make a cheesecake that my vegan daughters could enjoy.

Inspired by the avocado chocolate mousse I made a while ago – https://naturocath.wordpress.com/2015/08/08/just-when-you-thought-you-couldnt-have-chocolate-mousse-anymore/   I decided to tweak it a bit to make it more able to hold its own. The end result was decadent, chocolatey, smooth and creamy. It does have some maple syrup but contains no refined sugar, no wheat or dairy so it’s great if you are trying to move away from these things.

It’s so easy to make – all you need is a food processor. No baking or beating. It all came together in about 15 minutes.

Hold onto your hats ….here we go….

NaturoCath Chocolate Cheesecake

Base – You can make a standard biscuit base or this nut and date version.
2 cups whole almonds
15 medjool dates
1 1/2 tablespoons coconut oil
pinch of salt
1/2 teaspoon each of coffee and cinnamon (optional)

Place nuts and dates in food processor and whiz till chopped. Add coconut oil, salt, coffee and cinnamon. Blend until this mixture forms a ball. Press this into a lined springform pan and place in fridge while you make the filling.

Filling

3 medium ripe avocados
3/4 cup coconut oil
1 1/2 cups cocoa powder – you can substitute in some raw cacao or cocoa nibs here if you want
Big pinch of good quality salt ( like Maldon)
1/2 – 3/4 cup of maple syrup ( or other sweetener – agave syrup, rice malt, honey – add gradually tasting to get the right amount of sweetness for you )

Blend all filling ingredients until very smooth – scrape down the sides of the bowl a few times – depending on your machine this should only take a couple of minutes.

Pour filling over base, smooth and place in freezer for a hour or so until stabilised. Remove from freezer about an hour before serving and top with whatever you fancy. I used freeze dried strawberries, bashed with a rolling pin to make strawberry ‘dust’. You could also use whatever fresh fruit you enjoy most. Store in refrigerator if eating within a couple of days otherwise leave in freezer.

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Stressed, wired and tired ? Take the adrenal quiz to see how you score ….

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Some of you may have read my posts about adrenal fatigue. If not, you might want to check them out here….

https://naturocath.wordpress.com/2015/07/20/adrenal-fatigue-that-wired-and-tired-feeling/

https://naturocath.wordpress.com/2012/08/06/adrenal-fatigue-do-you-fit-the-bill-13/

So many of us are living hectic lives, finding it hard to sleep and concentrate, feeling overwhelmed, stressed, and lacking resilience. It’s time to have a good look at how you are feeling and do something about it.

You may think that you are coping well with your busy stressful life but take a few minutes to complete this quiz and see what your numbers tell you.

Adrenal Stress Quiz

Score 1 beside symptoms you have had in the past, 2 for symptoms that happen occasionally, 3 for symptoms that occur quite often and 4 for symptoms that occur frequently. Add up the total score.

­ __Hormonal imbalances (e.g., thyroid problems, PMT, menopausal symptoms)
__Emotionally reactive – short fuse/quick to anger/easily unsettled
__Prolonged exposure to stress (job, family, illness, caregiving)
__Headaches or jaw pain
__Environmental or chemical exposure or sensitivities
__Low blood sugar / feel cranky when hungry
__Food allergies
__Poor concentration/memory problems /brain fog
__Low energy/excessive fatigue
__Racing thoughts especially when trying to sleep
__Dizziness upon standing
__Inflammatory conditions (arthritis, bursitis)
__Nervousness, depression, irritability, anxiety, or anger
__Shortness of breath/yawning a lot
__Cold hands and feet
__Low back pain or sore muscles
__Insomnia/frequent waking
__Heart palpitations
__Eyes sensitive to light
__Cravings: sugar, salt, coffee or other stimulants
__Alcohol intolerance
__Recurrent colds or infections
__Digestive problems or abdominal pains
__Weight gain or weight loss (unintentional)
__Sugar cravings – especially 
at a round 11am and 3pm
__Constipation/Diarrhoea
__Feeling wired but exhausted
__Waking up tired/unrefreshed
__Getting a second wind of energy around 6pm

Total Score

What your score indicates ….

Under 30 – You are doing really well. Good for you !

30 and 50:  Your adrenals are starting to feel the strain. It’s time to start looking at ways to reduce your stress levels.

50 and 80: It’s time to talk about starting some adrenal support supplements. You are past the point of being able to manage this on your own. You may need specific supplements and lifestyle changes to get back to a healthy score. The good news is that you have caught things at a manageable stage.

80 and 100: Your adrenals are suffering. You may want to consider how you can change your lifestyle, diet and circumstances to better support your health. Herbal medicines and nutritional supplements can help you kick start your way back to health. It is important that you address this now before things become more difficult to treat.

Over 100: You are suffering from adrenal fatigue and will require some longer term adrenal support to feel well again. It is important that you do something about this now not only to feel better but also to avoid the health risks associated with adrenal exhaustion.

There are a number of health issues related to untreated adrenal fatigue including :
poor immune function, increased risk of allergies, higher rates of auto immune disease, chronic fatigue, depression, anxiety, insomnia and sleep disturbance, hormonal imbalances, premenstrual syndrome symptoms, menopause symptoms, higher rates of cold/flu and infection.

If you feel concerned about adrenal fatigue or would like to improve your numbers call and book an appointment to talk about the many simple ways I can help you feel good again and reduce your risk of adrenal related health problems.